Omnichannel - the seamless integration of digital and physical assets - has moved from an abstract concept to a central component of a successful retail strategy.
Fifty-two percent of brands evaluated year over year in Gartner L2’s Intelligence Report: Omnichannel 2018 have both enhanced their use of digital channels to drive store visits and made online shopping more convenient and advantageous . Leading retailers and direct-to-consumer brands balance their brick-and-mortar footprint with a digitally powered marketing and fulfillment strategy.
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Content quality and brand equity remain the biggest drivers of desktop site engagement — direct and organic search result traffic accounted for over 75% of total desktop site traffic in 2017.
Brands have taken notice and prioritized creating a frictionless, intuitive site experience for consumers — 40% of analyzed brands now link to product pages from the four assessed content types (blogs, product-matching tools, tutorials and videos), up from 20% last year.
Marketers are expected to have an edge over retailers in branded search, as Google gives preference to brand-owned results by discounting the cost of bidding on brand-owned terms — a direct result of stronger search term relevance.
However, retailers own more search results than brands. Gartner L2 found that analyzed retailers collectively own almost three times more paid mobile results than brands do. Depending on their distribution strategy, brands are incentivized to cede paid search to retail partners and focus on linking brand-owned content and traffic to conversion points.
Brands realize the importance of relevant messaging, with 92% of brands identifying personalization as a top priority. However, they continually struggle with execution: in 2018, only 23% of analyzed brands personalized their websites with user data-based recommendations.
Leader brands in Gartner L2’s Data & Targeting report not only outperform in data capture, but also effectively deploy user data. Top players more frequently pursue targeted marketing across email, social and display advertising; 69% deploy targeted content on all three channels, compared to 43% of Laggards.
Mobile commerce continues surging in the U.S., propelled by numerous factors including better connection speeds, bigger and more interactive screens, and increased retailer support for conversion-boosting mobile payments and buy buttons. To capture mobile’s full potential as a conversion point, brands need to consider ad links as a crucial bridge from the top to bottom of the funnel.
More and more frequently, DTC brands link their ad creatives directly to their sites. In both 2016 and 2017, 68% of brand ads linked to the brands’ own sites. However, certain sectors are ramping up their ad linking strategy. For example, 67% of activewear ads in 2017 linked to a brand site, up from 60% in 2016, and department stores jumped from 53% to 72%.
To win in the omnichannel age, brands with brick-and-mortar footprints must orchestrate seamless integration between site, social media, digital marketing and store.
Leader brands embrace the mantra that less is more, deploying effective content that continually drives shoppers toward conversion.
Mobile has expanded from a top-of-funnel device to a legitimate transaction point, thanks to improved operating systems, payment options and consumer comfort with mobile shopping.
Successful brands adapt their loyalty programs to target audiences by diversifying both monetary and experiential rewards, boosting personalization efforts and creating seamless mobile experiences.
Retailers take the cake when it comes to branded search. To effectively control both paid and organic listings, brands need to invest in different ad formats in addition to producing relevant and compelling site content.